From: James Randi --- Wizard <randi-hotline@ssr.com>
Subject: From Finland....

I've just finished my engagement at "Heureka," the Finnish Science Center. This was the occasion of the First Science Center World Congress. Over 500 delegates from 48 countries attended. Some 24 of those countries were very minor ones, and it was noted that these emerging and newly-freed states were of course much in need of sources of good science. The activity was brisk and enthusiastic, and I'm sure proved of great value to those who came together here to share with, and learn from, one another.

My keynote address on Saturday evening was so well attended that we had an overflow audience, and I had to do it all over again for the shutouts, half an hour later. During my talk, I had the opportunity to formally announce the launching of the James Randi Educational Foundation, and I received many offers of co-operation and assistance from the delegates.

(Just to show that not all heads of science projects necessarily understand basic science, I noted that one group proudly posed in front of a projection screen upon which appeared a title slide image, and insisted that the photographer use a flash when recording the occasion. The photographer told me they'd insisted on the flash, and had ignored his expert advice.)

The management at Heureka did a magnificent job of presenting this first-ever congress, and I note with great pleasure that the current Heureka theme-show ("Illusion -- How the Brain Works") includes a number of startling optical illusion items originated by my good friend Jerry Andrus, of Albany, Oregon. Jerry attended the congress with me and was mobbed by the delegates, many of whom will doubtless be contracting to use his skills at their centers, as well.

Listening to the presentations at the congress, I was made well aware of the alarming situation that is evident all over the world. Anti-science attitudes are increasing. Quackery and pseudoscience are universal, and responsible scientists are becoming seriously concerned. Science centers can no longer be merely attractive and "nice" but must become agressive in making their message available and sought-after by the public. Dwindling government support -- almost universal -- has brought about a crisis in education, and this congress took place at a timely point in history.

I will go from here directly to Buffalo, New York, to attend another "first," an international congress of skeptics sponsored by the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. By the time I get back to Florida on the 23rd, I may have OD'd on skepticism.

But I doubt it.

James Randi.


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